The Common Good
December 2005

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

by James Ferguson | December 2005

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Atlanta’s city council passed a controversial bill in August banning panhandling within a “tourist triangle” that covers most of the central business district. Members of the faith-based Open Door Community and other advocates for the homeless strenuously opposed the bill, linking it to the 1950s “Negro Removal” policy pursued by an earlier incarnation of Central Atlanta Progress, the pro-business sponsor of the bill. The Open Door’s Murphy Davis told Sojourners that the homeless and advocates for the homeless who filled the council chamber reacted loudly to the decision, but “within an instant they had police coming out of the woodwork.” She added, “Never in the history of the city council have nonviolent demonstrators been forced out of the chamber.” Seven people were arrested, including one former city council member.

An evacuee from New Orleans was arrested under a similar ordinance in an affluent Atlanta suburb, even as that city’s mayor held a press conference drawing attention to her efforts to make housing available for evacuees—housing, Davis points out, that could have been made available to the homeless.

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